Gearing up for dove hunts

Gearing up for dove hunts

 With the dove hunting opener fast approaching it’s time to get geared up with everything from a new hunting license to shotgun shells.

The new 2018-19 hunting and fishing licenses went on sale last week. Now is a good time to go ahead and renew. If you wait until the day before dove season opens you could be stuck standing in line for a good while. The most popular license is the Super Combo that includes both hunting and fishing and stamps. That way you’ve got everything on one piece of paper.

Gearing up for dove hunting can include everything from a comfortable seat to a lightweight shotgun. As for shotguns, about the best you can use for dove hunts is an over and under 20 gauge. I’ve been using one for years and it can’t be beat. It’s light and easy to load and unload. This particular gauge is perfect for bringing down a 15-bird limit of both mourning and white-winged doves.

The typical drill for a dove hunter in the field is to figure out where the birds are flying then set up in that zone. That usually includes walking through the field and carrying all your gear like water, shells, a cell phone, chair and gun.

A lot of dove hunting comfort starts with a good chair, one that has a strap that’ll fit over a shoulder for easy transportation. The best chairs are compact, camouflaged and have a small zip up compartment for stashing bottled water or some sort of thirst quencher. An insulated five-gallon bucket with a swivel lid is very popular. They are easy to haul around and hold ice, drinks and a place to stash the doves so they don’t overheat. Plus, you can easily turn and shoot at birds coming in various directions with the swivel seat.

I like an old-style shooting vest. The one I’ve used for years is camo green and has a mesh back to help keep you cool, two big side pockets for shells and a large pouch for stashing birds. Another option is a bird belt with multiple pouches for holding shot shells, birds and water.

Notice I keep mentioning water. That’s very important. Carry all you can comfortably pack into the field. It can get incredibly hot in a hurry during a September dove hunt. Water, and lots of it, is good for you and your dog.

The most popular shotshell size is either 7-1/2 or 8 shot. But what you’ll find is that size shot will sell out fast. If you’ll be making several dove hunts, it’s definitely best to buy a case of your preferred shot size.

One of the most important things you can do before the season opener is to get in a little practice at the shooting range. That will definitely give you the edge over your buddies that haven’t popped a cap since last dove season. One way to get some shooting in is to either buy a machine that slings clay pigeons or join a gun club. Two of the best in this area include the One In 100 Gun Club (www.1in100gunclub.com) near Lumberton or the Orange Gun Club (www.orangegunclub.com).

Holy king mackerel

Game wardens in Brazoria County investigating an Operation Game Thief crime stoppers call about a violation of over the daily bag/possession limit of king mackerel recently made a shocking discovery. The tipster claimed a group of five was stockpiling king mackerel in a boat storage facility in Freeport. Armed with description of the suspects’ vehicles and boats, wardens began checking vessels near the Freeport jetties and came across a boat that fit the description. The occupants were in possession of king mackerel in excess of the daily limit, and while escorting them back to the boat ramp, the wardens made contact with the other culprits. The suspects were brought to the commercial boat storage, where wardens gained access to a unit that contained 30 king mackerel stuffed into a freezer, in addition to the 16 king mackerel the five fisherman had on board both vessels. After lengthy interviews, several tickets were written to the five individuals for exceeding their possession limit of king mackerel.

Caught with too many red snapper

Game wardens received a call from the South Padre Police Department stating they had come across an ice chest full of red snapper during a traffic stop and believed the occupants to be over their possession limit. Contact was made with the three individuals and consent was given to inspect the fish. The story given was inconsistent between the three individuals, who claimed they got the fish from friends, but could not produce any proof. Although they had been out on a fishing trip all day with the unnamed sources, they had taken no photos of the others onboard. A bag count showed the group was 16 red snapper over their daily bag limits, including two undersized fish. All three individuals received tickets with restitution. The fish were donated to the public.

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